How a Victorian Village home owner preserved the past while adding contemporary conveniences.

Victorian Village resident Aaron Borchers has a knack for finding old houses with potential.

In 2012, he sold the Italian Village house that he had remodeled and was looking for his next renovation project when he found his current home near Goodale Park.

Borchers had previously worked with Joshua Wood, owner of Joshua Wood Art and Antiques, so he hired him again for the construction portion of the project. Based on several recommendations, he also hired urbanorder, an architectural firm located in Italian Village.

Steve Hurtt, principal architect at urbanorder, says the company's typical process is to walk through an existing structure to create a client wish list. “In this house, there were good bones, so we wanted to make it livable and modern in a historic structure,” he says.

Borchers bought the home knowing that the master suite would need work. He also knew he needed a larger kitchen space for entertaining and a garage was on his wish list. He recognized that there was available space behind the home to accommodate a new structure, but he needed to work with Hurtt and Wood to create a design that complemented the home's historical aesthetic.

Because this was a total remodel, the project timeline included three phases. Crews worked on Borchers' home for eight months before he moved in. During that first phase, the garage was built and the first-floor work was partially completed—until a living room addition was added later. Also, the master suite was completed. In phase two, after Borchers moved into the home, an attic space—which is now used as a guest room—was finished.

The last phase of the project was the living room addition off the kitchen with a wall of windows that showcases the quaint backyard space. A butler's pantry is situated between the kitchen and living room, leading to a back entryway, which provides private access into the home from the garage.

In the beginning of the process, the front door was relocated to its original spot to create a more open space upon entering the house. When Borchers bought the home, the front door was awkwardly located directly in front of the original wooden staircase. A wall was removed to open up the stairwell, and a half bath was constructed in an area underneath.

Also, in the original structure, doorways were shorter, so Borchers and his team decided to heighten the archways. The original kitchen was tight and not ideal for entertaining; thus, a decision was made to remove a pantry and a bathroom, opening up the kitchen as Borchers had envisioned.

“It was a challenge for anyone to see the possibilities in the former kitchen,” says Hurtt, explaining that its original size was a third of the new kitchen's space. There was very little cabinetry as well. “It took talent and creativity to see the possibilities for this room,” adds Borchers.

A new living room addition, added in 2016, now flows seamlessly from the kitchen. Natural light is abundant due to its wall of steel-framed windows facing the backyard. Because this was a new addition, the team started with an interior sketch, with Borchers adding the necessary furniture. He also knew he wanted a fireplace in the living area, as well as a mudroom addition and a butler's pantry for more storage.

In this space, Hurtt says he and his team tried to honor the house's historical character while creating a modern living space. This room now highlights the owner's eclectic art collection, which he has acquired from various local artists through the years. It was also important to Borchers to use local vendors whenever possible throughout the renovation. The project team enlisted help from Hamilton Parker, Modlich Stoneworks, and APCO for various materials throughout construction.

The second floor also required innovative thinking to achieve the desired outcome for Borchers' private living space. The homeowner wanted a master suite with a connecting bedroom, bathroom and closet. A master bath was added in what had previously been a small bedroom near the landing at the top of the stairs. In order to connect the bedroom and the bathroom addition, the bedroom's original entryway was relocated.

A third bedroom was converted into a generous master closet, with space available for a stackable washer and dryer. The original closet space included a trap door that led to the third floor. (The door has since been removed.) During the renovation, the decision was made to add a different entrance to the attic space from the hallway outside Borchers' office and the master closet.

The finished home is a seamless blend of modern accents and historical charm. Borchers credits Wood for his assistance during the design process. “Aaron had a strong vision of what he wanted from traveling, and he would ask me how to find particular things,” says Wood. Hurtt says the ultimate goal of the project was “to get the home back to the bones of the original structure and increase circulation to modernize the existing space.”

Borchers is enjoying his renovated Victorian Village home but always keeps an open mind about a future project. “If I get excited about something, I would totally do this again,” he says.